Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

September 2009

This months News



World Challenge – Southern India

Well I’m back safely from my trip to India!  And what a trip!

After 20 hours of travelling and months of preparation, we finally arrived in Cochin, South India on the 13th July and spent our first day acclimatizing to our new surroundings.  The next day we set off to our first project, which was at a primary school and orphanage in Kollam – another 7 hours of travelling by train! 

The children were so excited to see us, and gave us a really warm welcome.

Having met some of the staff and students, we got stuck into the building work straight away, with the guidance of some local builders that we hired after some negotiation.

The first thing we had to do was dig the foundations of the toilet block we had promised to build for the school.  My friend Fiona and I were in charge of the cement mixing and spent almost 6 hours doing this in hot and very muggy weather!  When we had finished the ground work and most of the structure, we left the finishing work for the builders and split into three groups.

Some of us went into town to buy stationery and books for the students, some of us began designing and decorating the main classroom and the rest started teaching the younger children English.  Two days later, the children had a pencil and book each and sports equipment, a beautiful jungle scene painted on the wall in the classroom, and had learnt enough English to communicate with us.

We spent half a day helping at an elephant orphanage; this was a wonderful experience.  The orphanage was just on the edge of the jungle next to a large lake.  Here, by the lakeside, we washed the dozen or so orphaned elephants that lived at the shelter.  The elephants were very eager to get into the water for their baths and lay down without any prompting.  Once they were lying down we used a rock to rub all over their bodies, removing any dirt.  We were surprised to learn that the smallest elephant was actually already 3 years old, we thought that elephants grew large quite quickly, however he was only a metre tall!

Having spent 5 days in Kollam, we left to return to Cochin.  Following a couple of days relaxing we headed by train for an orphanage in Tamil Nadu, which lies in the southern most part of the Indian Peninsula, another 8 hours of travelling.

After arriving at the orphanage and having met and played with some of the children, our project commenced.  The project was to connect the orphanage to the mains water supply as well as lay piping to plumb in taps and water tanks.  The tanks used to collect and store rain water in case of shortages.  After 4 days of solid graft, we had installed a total of 11 working taps and 2 water tanks, giving the orphanage running water for the first time.  This is something of which the group is very proud.

As in Kollam, we bought the children stationery, books, hairclips, yoyos, and sports equipment.  We held a sports day for the children, giving out the toys and accessories as prizes.  To do this the children came with us back to our campsite (a one and half kilometre walk each way) for a balloon race, a wheelbarrow race (which the children did not know how to do and I had to demonstrate!), a relay and a hopping race.

It took a while for the children to grasp what to do in each game – with the relay race all the children in the orphanage ran off at the same time when the race started which was very funny – but that just added to the occasion.  Having spent 5 days there the children were very sad to see us leave, as we had been the first Europeans to visit them.  We had become very close to the children after helping them with plumbing, learning and playing.

And then after a few days relaxation it was time for us to head back home.  Our clothes and our kit reflected the three weeks of the trip.  Nothing ever seemed to be dry and we longed for a hot shower, clean water from a tap and a proper loo!!!!

Would I do it again?  Yes I would, it is something that I will never forget and it is something that has given me a great sense of achievement and pride.

Finally, I wish to thank you so much for all the sponsorship money donated to me (a special thanks to the person who anonymously left a large donation in my letterbox), which allowed me to travel to these children and hopefully benefit their and other children’s lives in the future.  I’d like to give special thanks to Pam and Yvonne at the Peacock who raised over £100 towards the trip.  This money was put towards the stationery, sports equipment and toys we gave to the orphans.

Ellie Beavis

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Last modified: August 28, 2009